Caring community keeps cuddly toy tradition going

Kakanui brothers Jay (12, front left) and Neiko (8) Thomson donate their Sonic the Hedgehog toy...
Kakanui brothers Jay (12, front left) and Neiko (8) Thomson donate their Sonic the Hedgehog toy to the Kakanui Volunteer Fire Brigade. Accepting the donation are (from left) operational support Glenn McGregor, fire chief Brent Dungey, crew leader Doreen Cleave and volunteer firefighter Russell Walker. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN
It is a simple gesture that means a lot.

For the Kakanui Volunteer Fire Brigade, giving out teddy bears to children involved in traumatic incidents has been a tradition for several years.

No-one knows where the idea came from, but there have always been a few teddy bears tucked away in the brigade’s trucks to help comfort and calm children at car crashes, fires or other incidents.

‘‘It just helps settle the situation, and gives them something to cuddle,’’ Kakanui Volunteer Fire Brigade crew leader Doreen Cleave said.

After the brigade gave away its last teddy bear at a recent crash, it put the call out for donations of unwanted teddy bears and soft toys.

The Kakanui community answered the call — and Ms Cleave said the brigade now had more teddy bears than she hoped it would ever need.

Among those who gave soft toys to the brigade were Kakanui brothers Jay and Neiko Thomson.

They said they wanted to give up their Sonic the Hedgehog toy to help support other children going through a tough time.

Ms Cleave said the brigade was thrilled with Jay and Neiko’s generosity, and the response the brigade had from the whole community.

‘‘We want to say a big thank you to the Kakanui community,’’ she said.


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